No not that kind of self-love you filthy animals! I’m talking about the things we do that keep us calm and happy in the midst of this anxiety and anger ridden world. After being diagnosed with anxiety, I tried EVERYTHING people recommended to stop panic attacks, so I thought I would list out things that have genuinely made a difference. I’d like to point out I added these things gradually to my life, this wasn’t just an overnight overhaul, and what works for me won’t necessarily be your bag, but always worth a shot right?
Yin Yoga – or what I like to call lazy yoga. Mind you there is nothing lazy about it. It’s just very slow paced and excellent to learn breathing techniques in. What they do is put you in positions stretching certain muscles and keep you there for 3-5 minutes which is MUCH easier said than done. You slowly breathe into the stretches. This helps with back pains, general aches and most importantly, anxiety. Recommendation – wear a jumper to this class. Because of the slow breathing and the calming effect it has, I always used to end up cold afterwards!! I would start with it off, but half way through, I guarantee you’ll be glad you brought it!
Journaling – my daily diary update. I’ve been told this particularly helps those of my star sign, Aquarians, as we always have much on our minds. However a very strong symptom of anxiety is racing thoughts, so I found it doubly helpful. In the morning I have a journal, where I write about anything I dreamt and things that are generally on my mind. At the front of my journal I have a list of positive things about me and what I’m grateful for. Because positivity. If there is something I would like to accomplish throughout the day I try not to write it down. Reason being, if I didn’t manage to achieve it, the next morning when I reflect on it, I usually feel guilty or will put myself down for not completing it. No need for that! Especially not before coffee. In the evening, I have a little five minute reflective journaling. Nothing major, just anything I want to get off my mind. Plus going shopping for a pretty journal you get to look at every day is always a win. If you aren’t someone that knows where to start or things to write about you can get guided journals that will ask you a question a day, to start you off on your journey
A nightly self-reflection ritual – candles and all. OK so you don’t have to have candles (I mean, I love them, but they aren’t necessary). I read somewhere that creating a ritual before bed time, by either lighting a candle, or having a crystal out etc. that signifies “you” time can help you feel grounded. This is time to think about how you feel presently, and if there are any emotions you wanted to deal with. I have two crystals and a pebble I like to get out, as well as a candle. I recite a little self-affirmation verse that came with my candle (What DON’T candles give is the real question here) and then sit in silence, just for a few moments, looking inwards silently and seeing what comes out. It sounds very hippy-esque, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.
Massages/Spa days – no explanation needed. OK so this isn’t a quick fix daily technique but for about 72 hours after a massage or spa day I feel like a cloud. There’s also something so special knowing you’ve treated yourself to something so wonderful. For you. No one else. For those of you that like the sensation of control, this is also a win. You book it, for you, on your terms and you’ve made YOU feel better. Total control. Win. Of course this isn’t just limited to massages, this is getting your nails done, or just anything you know will make you feel better about yourself.
Meditation – guided meditation apps. Alas I still struggle without the apps telling me when to shut my eyes and watch my breathing etc. but I probably feel about 3-10% less anxious after a meditation session. That may be a small figure but it makes a difference so I’m keeping at it. Of all the apps I’ve tried, Headspace has always been the clear winner. Calm app coming in at number two. They also have specific guided mediation programmes for anxiety, stress, depression, loss etc. which is great if you’re looking for something tailored.
Plant Ownership – welcome to the jungle. I don’t know what it is about having your room look like a mini jungle, but man does it work for me. Looking after them, knowing they’re giving you some pure as hell oxygen, and feeling like you’re in the park in your own bedroom. Win-ning.
Park Walks – plants that you can’t take home. Similar to the above but with a sky on top of your head. There’s nothing more relaxing then a walk in the park on a beautiful summer’s day, hearing only birds and the leaves rustling in the wind. Ultimate relaxation technique.
Counselling – because those doctors know what’s up. People have trained for years to understand the human mind. Sometimes we just can’t figure it out ourselves and we need help. I definitely did. I went through several counsellors and was very close to giving up on the idea of talking to a stranger that I had to pay to listen to me. Then I found the one. My counsellor. The one that I could cry in front of and didn’t want the ground to swallow me whole. I can say she really changed things for me. Viewpoints I never saw and perspective I always needed were laid out in a way that I naturally picked them up. Take your time and find the right person.
Making time for you – Netflix and a fried chicken bucket. Block book an afternoon out. Any afternoon. People want to see you, say you’re busy, doesn’t matter. In that afternoon, do what you love the most, and don’t judge yourself for not being productive. If you want to get under the duvet, binge watch a new series and eat an entire tub of ice cream, GO FOR IT. If you want to catch up on Cosmo magazine and sip on a chardonnay, ENJOY. Just do whatever the hell you love doing.
Now I’m not going to add this in as it wasn’t something I particularly enjoyed, but cannot deny its efficiency, was medication. Speak to your doctor, they always know what’s best ☺
I’m aware the above sounds like some sort of crazed hippy chick guide to living life, but I can’t deny its efficacy with me! So slap a “make love not war” bumper sticker on my car if you must but it’s worth a go if your mind can slow down a bit and give you a bit more clarity and relaxation in your lives ☺